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An analysis of the $82 million eBay Scalping Market for Xbox, PS5, AMD, and NVIDIA

Michael Driscoll
Data Product Senior Associate Lead at Avant & Graduate Student in Machine Learning at Georgia Tech
Updated on ・8 min read

PS5 Disc eBay Sale History

Similar to many others, I am eager to get my hands on some of the new tech that's come out, specifically the 5950X, 3080, and PS5, but scalpers seem to be ruining this for everyone. To get an idea of how bad it really is, I wrote a script to scrape all of eBay's sold listings for the products and graph them to get some trends.

Some definitions/assumptions for how I analyzed the data:

  • Casual Scalper Break Even: The point at which someone who just bought some of the products at retail and listed it would likely no longer be profiting. Using an eBay fees calculator I assumed this type of scalper does not have an eBay store, is not a top seller, paid a 6.25% tax, and is paying the median shipping on the listings.

  • Sophisticated Scalper Break Even: These types of scalpers I assume have made a business out of scalping and through various means are a top eBay seller, have a premium or better eBay store, managed to not pay taxes, and found a way to get the items at a discount. This is the worst case scalper, who has bots set up to automatically buy items when they are released on Newegg, Amazon, Best Buy, etc... and auto list keeping their costs minimal. Edit: I have gotten many comments that this is a bit too unbelievable an outcome, which it very well may be. I will consider adding tax back in, but this was always meant to be a worst possible case, not the most likely case.

  • Scalper/eBay Profits: Sum of all sold prices - MSRP * number of sold listings

  • For Big Navi and RTX 30 series, I am just going off of the base MSRP for analysis, while I realize the real MSRP can fluctuate a few hundred dollars (e.g. base 3080 is $699 but an aftermarket one from ASUS is $850 MSRP), but using the baseline is easiest and represents a floor.

  • For each search I filtered for "US Only" and for each item set a min price cutoff, usually around 0.5 * MSRP and up to normally ~5 * MSRP to remove some false positives. See the code for specifics

Source Code: https://github.com/driscoll42/ebayScraper

Zen 3

Zen 3 Median Pricing

CPU Graph MSRP Total Sold Median Price Past Week Median Price Casual Scalper Break Even Sophisticated Scalper Break Even Scalper/eBay Profits Total Sales
5600X $299 728 $428 $413 $375 $304 $96,454 $314,126
5800X $449 633 $589 $545 $558 $457 $93,715 $377,932
5900X $549 533 $873 $825 $682 $558 $190,756 $483,373
5950X $799 322 $1395 $1275 $987 $812 $195,812 $453,090

Zen 3 is the code name for AMD's new CPU architecture, representing the first time since 2005 AMD has had faster singlethread performance than Intel. Currently there are four CPUs on the market, the 6-core 5600X, the 8-core 5800X, the 12-core 5900X, and the 16-core 5950X. At their MSRP they are all faster than any of their peers and sell out instantly.

Zen 3 has the best pricing outlook out of all the product types investigated. All of the CPUs are on a downward pricing trend, with the 5800X recently below the break-even point for casual scalpers. Likely the casual scalpers will stop buying new 5800Xs soon and try to sell off their stock. Eventually as AMD's keeps making new chips, the 5800X pricing will but a ceiling on the 5600X, a high ceiling, but a ceiling nonetheless and drive its prices down. Scalpers clearly did not anticipate demand for the 5950X and 5900X, initially pricing the chips 50% below what they could be sold for and quickly corrected in a couple days. The 5950X and 5900X are still well above 50% of their MSRP, and based on trends I would not expect them to be down to MSRP before mid-January.

Big Navi

Big Navi Median Pricing

GPU Graph MSRP Total Sold Median Price Past Week Median Price Casual Scalper Break Even Sophisticated Scalper Break Even Scalper/eBay Profits Total Sales
RX 6800 $579 263 $859 $850 $720 $589 $81,044 $233,321
RX 6800 XT $649 191 $1277 $1247 $807 $660 $120,650 $244,609

Big Navi (RDNA 2) is AMD's new graphics card microarchitecture, with two cards out, the RX 6800 and RX 6800XT and the RX 6900 XT announced, but not releasing until December 8. Competitive with NVIDIA's new RTX 30 series graphics cards, they too sell out instantly.

Big Navi is comparatively worse than Zen 3; the 6800 XT is still going for 75% over MSRP and the base 6800 selling for 150% of MSRP since it launched. More recently the 6800 XT has seen a 10-20% drop in price which if it keeps up that trend will be more reasonably pressed by the end of the year, but I expect the trend will not hold. The 6800 shows no signs of having improved pricing, with a very flat pricing trend, potentially the release of the 3060 and sales of other RTX cards will drive its price down.

RTX 30 Series

RTX 30 Series Median Pricing

GPU Graph MSRP Total Sold Median Price Past Week Median Price Casual Scalper Break Even Sophisticated Scalper Break Even Scalper/eBay Profits Total Sales
RTX 3060 Ti $399 112 $649 $649 $498 $406 $22,948 $67,636
RTX 3070 $499 4141 $786 $809 $623 $507 $1,254,754 $3,321,113
RTX 3080 $699 7222 $1315 $1250 $869 $711 $5,278,707 $10,326,885
RTX 3090 $1499 3749 $2250 $2017 $1849 $1523 $3,049,667 $8,669,418

The RTX 30 series is NVIDIAs line up of new graphics cards, the 3060 Ti, 3070, 3080, and 3090. At their MSRPs they are the best graphic cards on the market enabling gaming at 4K resolution at 60 FPS at the high end.

For as poor as Big Navi's pricing is, the RTX 30 series pricing is even worse. The 3060 launched on 12/1 and immediately started selling for >50% of its MSRP. Since 11/15 all four cards have seen their pricing trends progress upwards after decreasing since launch. It is possible anticipation of Black Friday/Cyber Monday drove down prices temporarily. Ironically the 3060 is 60% over MSRP, 3070 is 70% over MSRP, and 3080 is 80% over MSRP roughly, though the 3090 is "only" 40% over MSRP. The RTX 30 series are huge moneymakers for scalpers, with over $9 million dollars in profits just on eBay alone.

Xbox

Xbox Median Pricing

Console Graph MSRP Total Sold Median Price Past Week Median Price Casual Scalper Break Even Sophisticated Scalper Break Even Scalper/eBay Profits Total Sales
Xbox Series S $299 6863 $469 $500 $385 $304 $1,481,654 $3,533,691
Xbox Series X $499 22932 $865 $895 $639 $507 $8,609,715 $20,052,783

The Xbox Series S/X are Microsoft's new gaming consoles, with the Series S being slightly weaker than the Series X.

Moving to the gaming consoles, demand is far higher than the CPUs and GPUs, and pricing is trends reflect that. Before the Xbox was launched a cheaper time to "buy" an Xbox, with the launch of the Xboxes driving prices up 30% for the Series X and 15% for the Series S. The price hike seems to be abating somewhat in the past couple of weeks, though still over 50% MSRP. It is easily seen that the Series X is more popular, with over 3 times the number of sales as the Series S, and scalpers making over $9 million in profits from the Xboxes.

PS5

PS5 Median Pricing

Console Graph MSRP Total Sold Median Price Past Week Median Price Casual Scalper Break Even Sophisticated Scalper Break Even Scalper/eBay Profits Total Sales
PS5 Digital $399 7322 $937 $1025 $516 $406 $4,294,061 $7,215,539
PS5 Disc $499 25642 $1021 $1101 $642 $507 $14,742,432 $27,537,790

The PS5 Disc/Digital are Sony's new gaming consoles to compete with the Xbox Series S/X. The only difference between the PS5's is the Digital version has no disc drive and can only download games to play while the Disc can have a disc inserted to play.

But the worst pricing is reserved for the PS5. The Disc version is going for 300% MSRP, and the Digital for 200% MSRP! Over 32,000 PS5s have been sold on eBay, resulting in scalpers netting $19 million in profits. Again, as with the Xbox, it was cheaper to preorder on eBay, and when the consoles launched demand spiked up and has continued increase with a slight decrease in the past couple of weeks. Perhaps most interesting is the relationship between the PS5 and Xbox. The PS5 has sold ~13% more units, and the Disc version is 18% more expensive than the Series X. The PS5 Digital is twice as expensive as the Series S. It's hard to see why someone would buy a PS5 Digital vs. the Disc on eBay with the median price difference being $76.

Summary

In short, scalpers have made $82 million in sales, $39 million in profit since September on just these 14 products on eBay. But let's not forget eBay and PayPal, taking in $6.6 million and $2.4 million, respectively, in fees for providing the platform and payment options. With eBay's fairly high fees, I assume it's the place scalpers choose last as FB Marketplace, Craigslist, other forums/discords offer better profit margins, so this analysis can only be a proxy for the overall scalping market. I would conservatively guess the real scalping market is at least 2-5x larger (personally I think 10x+); it's clear how scalping is a very lucrative career option for someone of dubious morals. For Zen 3, there's some hope in sight by early next year; for the rest, until supply meets demand it's pretty bleak.

Also it looks like The Verge had a similar idea to mine, posted a couple of days after me, glad to see there's interest in this! The true price of a PlayStation 5

Future Articles:

Part 1: An analysis of the $82 million eBay Scalping Market for Xbox, PS5, AMD, and NVIDIA
Part 2: An analysis of eBay tech scalpers
Part 3: Predicting future pricing (probably with XGBoost)
Part 4-?: A walkthrough of the code used in these analyses
Part TBD: A retrospective (once pricing has settled)

Discussion (7)

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restoreddev profile image
Andrew Davis

Really fascinating breakdown, thanks for posting it. While I don't think scalping should be illegal, I do wish the manufacturers and retailers could come up with a better system to avoid the "Sophisticated Scalpers". I got an RTX card from EVGA and they have a queue where you can sign up with a reCaptcha verified account. When it is your turn in the queue, you get the opportunity to buy one of the desired product. Seems like a no-brainer for Microsoft, Sony and Newegg to do something similar.

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driscoll42 profile image
Michael Driscoll Author

Agreed. It's one thing if someone bought one, maybe an extra and sold it. Something else when they're buying dozens, hundreds and relisting them for sale. I'm waiting to get in EVGA's queue personally for their hybrid. One day.

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Alex Casas

This is a really great breakdown of the huge market of scalping and the inherent lack of shortage of the newest silicon. I think a major factor behind this entire shortage would be an underestimation on the part of both AMD and Nvidia of the demand for the newest technology. I think a cool area to dive into would be the power that TSMC holds because they are the major providers of silicon for the newest hardware for AMD, Nvidia, and many others. How does relying on only one source for the silicon affect the availability? I see this is a good question to pose because Intel is having no shortages due to a stronger supply chain as a response to the shortages in 2019 and also owning its foundries and rarely outsourcing.

I recently covered the hardware shortages across all sectors and the information you found really gave great insight into the lucrative scalping market as well as the lack of stock. Even if the stock is low for AMD, they are still on track to a $1 billion increase in revenue meaning its focus is going elsewhere than the production of consumer products. I linked the article down below if you are curious.

wccftech.com/nvidia-amd-are-facing...

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driscoll42 profile image
Michael Driscoll Author

Glad you liked the article and loved what you wrote! I agree that the shortage of TSMC's 7nm silicon is probably the bottleneck. Everyone needs it, and there's never enough. From a Tom's Hardware article tomshardware.com/news/amd-to-becom... one could probably estimate roughly how many chips AMD is getting, and NVIDIA doesn't even make TSMC's top four customers, and AMD's limited supply is going to their CPU/GPUs, Xbox and PS5. If you ever investigate more I'd love to read about it.

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vostro007 profile image
vostRo007

Thanks i using this cool website to calculat my ebay fess
i wish to vsit hem this is the link ebayfeescalculator.xyz/index.html

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xjt

Is it possible for you to share these data for my college project? Thanks.

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calendartype profile image
Type Calendar

I need it. Could you please send an e-mail to AnnalisaAgnese@gmail.com.

Annalisa Agnese